France Poised to Turn Away from Nuclear to Renewables

French government proposes law to reduce nuclear power by 25 percent

France’s National Assembly is poised to pass a new energy law that will transform the French power industry and the way electricity is produced, distributed and consumed. Up for a vote Wednesday, July 22, the new law calls for nuclear power to meet 50 percent of electricity needs by around 2025, which would be 25 percent less than a current 75 percent, Bloomberg Business news reports.

The new energy law also calls on France to increase renewable power generation to 23 percent of consumption by 2020 and 32 percent by 2030 as a means of attaining carbon emissions reductions 40 percent below the level in 1990 by 2030 and 50 percent by 2050. Fossil fuel production would also have to be reduced – by 30 percent in 2030 as compared to 2012.

Aiming to make up for reduced reliance on nuclear power, the new energy law also contains provisions to increase energy efficiency in order to reduce consumption and to institute resilient, ¨climate-smart¨ building, business and consumer practices as a means of compensating for what would be lost in nuclear power generation.

The new energy law comes in the run-up to France hosting the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 21st Conference of Parties (COP-21) treaty talks in Paris this December. French President François Hollande originally proposed the bill during the 2012 election campaign. Lawmakers have been haggling over its details since.

Supplying three-quarters or more of national electricity output France relies on nuclear energy to a greater degree than any other nation. The new energy law sets a cap on nuclear power output of 63.2 gigawatts (GWs).

France: GHG emissions by sector

Its passage would have a tremendous impact on EDF (Electicité de France SA), which owns and operates 58 nuclear power stations across the country. It’s estimated that 220,000 people are employed in the power sector.

EDF is closing two smaller nuclear reactors at is power plant in Flamanville in order to bring a new reactor that is under construction online. The utility also said it will shut down its oldest reactors at a nuclear power plant in Fessenheim.

An original requirement to reduce nuclear power generation to 50 percent of national power output by a firm deadline of 2025 was deemed unrealistic by legislators. Hence, the current version to be put up for vote specifies a target data of ‘around 2025.’

Featured image credit: wikimedia


Andrew Burger
Andrew Burger
A product of the New York City public school system, Andrew Burger went on to study geology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, work in the wholesale money and capital markets for a major Japanese bank and earn an MBA in finance.

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